Engage people more—Flip the Funnel

May 3rd, 2012

Do you funnel your message? If so, you’re not alone. Funneling our message is what we do most naturally. It’s what we see all around us, and what we grew up with.

Funneling your message will disengage people. We all sense when someone is guiding us toward their conclusion, instead of helping us better understand on our own terms.

Engage people more by flipping the funnel. Invert your approach to foster collaboration, curiosity, and dialogue.

Tomorrow (Friday) I have the privilege of spending the day with a host of prevention leaders in Portland at my Engage Camp. Today I’m making sure I’ve structured the day to mirror an inverted funnel.

Here’s a short video in which I talk about how you can do the same.

(Note: For some reason the volume on this video is faint. Sorry about that. I recommend you turn up your speakers, or listen with headphones.)


    Five completely optional acts that engage people

    April 25th, 2012

    1) Smile (the real kind)

    2) Make eye contact

    3) Genuinely listen

    4) Be curious

    5) Ask for someone’s name, then use it—For example, “That’s an interesting comment, Jen. Can you say a little more about that?”

    These are options. You don’t have to do any of them. But you should, if you want to engage and connect. These actions are the extra 5% that separate good work from great work.

    They are also the things that get squeezed out by external demands. A telltale sign of Social Normicide is that we bypass the optional in favor of the mandatory and measurable. We busy ourselves with what we have to do, and miss the opportunities that exist to positively alter the lives of others.

    Try doing something optional this week. No one is looking. No one is measuring. It won’t show up in any report. No one will know whether you do it or not, except, of course, you and the people you serve.

      Social Normicide

      February 29th, 2012

      System norms and social norms don’t play well together.  Systems value efficiency, predictability, and repeatability, among other things. Social norms are rooted in values such as trust, reciprocity, and respect. Social Normicide is when our commitment to system norms eclipses our commitment to serving people—like spraying herbicide on your flowers.

      Here’s a common way that this can happen:

      An organization receives a grant to meet predefined objectives. In order to fulfill their contract with their funder, the organization must achieve certain predefined deliverables. Fear enters and the organization proceeds as though the purpose of the project is to preserve fidelity to the plan. Though no one would explicitly state it, bringing positive change to people is of secondary importance.

      Notice how this inverts our priorities: we serve the system’s demands instead of the needs of people. Right this relationship. Serve people not systems.

      Of course we have to satisfy system norms, but keep them separate from social norms. Insulate the people you serve from system demands. The irony is that when we prioritize doing innovative, thoughtful work that engages people in a powerful way, we not only meet the demands of the system, we often exceed them.